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White Nights occur in areas of high latitude, weeks around the summer solstice in June, during which sunsets are late, sunrises are early and darkness is never complete. White Nights have become a common symbol of St Petersburg, Russia, where people celebrate the last 10 days of June with cultural events.

As the white nights approach, enjoy some of the most invigorating symphonies from Naxos’s vast Russian repertoire – conducted by such distinguishing artists as Marin Alsop, Vladimir Lande, Vasily Petrenko, and Dmitry Yablonsky – and feel the passionate Russian summer.

Russian Symphonies Releases in 2012

PROKOFIEV Symphony No 5 • The Year 1941
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop

Written in 1944, Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony is one of his greatest and most complete symphonic statements. At its première he himself called it “a symphony of the grandeur of the human spirit”. The first movement couples considerable strength with unexpected yet highly characteristic twists of melody. After a violent scherzo followed by a slow movement of sustained lyricism, with a fiercely dramatic middle section, the finale blazes with barely suppressed passion. The Year 1941 is another wartime work, a symphonic suite written in response to the German invasion of the Soviet Union. This is the first volume of a complete cycle of the Prokofiev Symphonies with the OSESP and Marin Alsop, the orchestra’s newly appointed principal conductor.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies, Vol 7
Symphony No 2 ‘To October’ • Symphony No 15

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

These two hugely contrasting symphonies come from the opposite ends of Shostakovich’s life and career. The Second Symphony was written to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Bolshevik October Revolution. Its advanced idiom of experimental textures and abstract effects can perhaps be best described as organised musical chaos. The Fifteenth was Shostakovich’s last symphony and is filled with remarkable contrasts, from the rollicking quotes from Rossini’s William Tell Overture and eerie references to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and Tristan und Isolde, to the last and perhaps most imaginative of the composer’s symphonic passacaglias.

WEINBERG Symphony No 6, Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes
Glinka Choral College Boys’ Choir
St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
Vladimir Lande

Weinberg is increasingly recognised as one of the outstanding composers of the second half of the twentieth century. His Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes is a concise medley of tunes that embrace folk influence, both melancholic and high spirited, culminating in a joyous and unstoppable dance. Scored for a very large orchestra and a children’s choir, Symphony No 6 is a work of huge expression, anguished and dynamic, encompassing lament, circus gallops, burlesque, and a cataclysmic and heartrending slow movement. Weinberg’s friend, Shostakovich, was so impressed that he used it as teaching material in his own classes.

various artists

The symphony came late to Russia. The first attempts at a Russian Nationalist symphony were made in the late nineteenth-century by Balakirev and his acolytes, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov as well as by Tchaikovsky, whose symphonies (despite his European leanings) have a distinctly Russian flavour. In their wake followed numerous composers, from Glazunov to Myaskovsky, similarly instilling their music with the melodies of their homeland. In the years that followed Russian politics had an unmistakable impact on the Russian symphonists, as Rachmaninov and Prokofiev (among others) went into exile whilst composers such as Shostakovich vented their political frustrations through the medium of music—his Leningrad Symphony being a prime example.

Other Russian Symphonies Releases

BALAKIREV Symphony No 2
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Igor Golovschin

BORODIN Symphonies Nos 1-3
Seattle Symphony
Gerard Schwarz

GLAZUNOV Orchestral Works, Vol 13
Symphony No 6

Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Alexander Anissimov

KALINNIKOV Symphonies Nos 1 and 2
National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine
Theodore Kuchar

MYASKOVSKY Symphonies Nos 24 and 25
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Dmitry Yablonsky

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin

National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Alexander Anissimov

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Symphony No 1, Symphony No 2 ‘Antar’
St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
André Anichanov

SCRIABIN Symphony No 3 ‘The Divine Poem’
Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Igor Golovschin

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies, Vol 1
Symphony No 11 ‘The Year 1905’

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies, Vol 2
Symphony No 5 • Symphony No 9

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies, Vol 3
Symphony No 8

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies, Vol 4
Symphony No 10

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies, Vol 5
Symphony No 1 • Symphony No 3 ‘The First of May’

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies, Vol 6
Symphony No 6 • Symphony No 12 ‘The Year 1917’

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

STRAVINSKY Symphony in C, Symphony in Three Movements
Philharmonia Orchestra
Robert Craft

TCHAIKOVSKY Manfred Symphony
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko

Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop

Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Antoni Wit

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No 6 ‘Pathétique’
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Antoni Wit

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9:57:22 AM, 29 May 2016
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